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14 May 2019 | Story Thabo Kessah | Photo Tsepo Moeketsi
Prof Ashafa
Prof Ashafa’s research documents plants used by the Basotho in the management of different ailments.

The Phytomedicine and Phytopharmacology Research Programme (PPRP) in the Department of Plant Sciences on the Qwaqwa Campus researches the biological effects of medicinal plants used in the folkloric medicine of the Eastern Free State, particularly to explore the values and contribution of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) towards broader scientific research. This is according to the programme’s principal investigator and researcher, NRF C2-rated researcher, Professor Anofi Ashafa. 

 “Our research is mainly aimed at documenting plants used by the Basotho in the management of different ailments and to further discover, isolate, and purify active phytoconstituents that are responsible for disease curation or amelioration, thereby assisting in the global promotion of accessible and affordable medication in developing countries,” said Prof Ashafa. 

Since 2012, the PPRP has worked extensively on Basotho medicinal plants (BMP) used as antimicrobials, antioxidants, antidiabetics, antitubercular, anticancer, anthelmintic, and antidiarrheal agents, starting from biological activities up to the  evaluation of the toxicity of these plants for the kidney, liver, and heart functions in order to establish safe dosage parameters. These activities have led to the discovery of four potent antidiabetic biomolecules that are awaiting the processes of patency and commercialisation. Additional outputs include 104 published peer-reviewed articles , 7 postdoctoral fellows, 6 PhDs, 9 master’s, and 16 honours graduates. 

“Our research informs teaching and the development of expertise in ethnobotany, 
phytomedicine, and phytopharmacology in order to contribute to the National Development Plan (NDP) through human capacity development, skills, and knowledge transfer.

The group is also investigating some medicinal plants on the endangered red list of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), through micropropagation and field trials as well as proposing conservation strategies to preserve these valuable species.

The PPRP consists of postdoctoral fellows, PhD, master’s, and honours students and research is done in collaboration with several local and international universities as well as the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa. 


News Archive

Vice-Chancellor honoured with major awards
2013-05-02

02 May 2013

The University of the Free State (UFS) is proud to announce that Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, has been awarded a number of major awards recently.

The University of California in the United States awarded him the Alice and Clifford Spendlove Prize in Social Justice, Diplomacy and Tolerance. The award is made in recognition of persons who exemplify in their work the delivery of social justice, diplomacy and tolerance in the diverse local and global society.

“The committee was very impressed with the commitment that Prof Jansen has had to reconciliation and forgiveness as a way to build bridges and to find common ground. Prof Jansen is following in the steps of many of our greatest peace-time leaders and we support his efforts to bring understanding to all cultures,” said Mark Aldenderfer, chair of the awards committee and Dean of the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Art at the University of California.

Prof Jansen also received the 2013 Academia Award at the Sixth Annual Ubuntu Lecture and Dialogue Awards Ceremony of the Turquoise Harmony Institute on 4 April 2013 in Johannesburg. The Institute aims to foster relations among different faith and cultural traditions to contribute to the well-being of humanity.

According to the organisers, “outstanding individuals who made noteworthy contributions to dialogue, peace and harmony in the society,” are given recognition during the ceremony. The awards are made in a number of different categories. Prof Jansen was among the recipients who included Graca Machel and the South African National Editors Forum (SANEF). Previous winners of Turquoise Awards include Ahmed Kathrada, Chester Williams, Dr Frene Ginwala and Prof Russel Botman.

On 10 May 2013, Prof Jansen was also honoured by Kappa Delta Pi International Honour Society in Education. He was awarded membership of the Laureate Chapter of the society founded in 1911 which “is comprised of men and women who have made distinguished contributions to education, and is limited to 60 living persons”. Prof Jansen joins an exclusive membership of 293 which includes such luminaries as Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jean Piaget and George Washington Carver.

Also in the United States, Prof Jansen has been invited to be Messenger Lecturer for Fall 2013 at Cornell University. He will give three lectures and interact with the students and staff of Cornell at various functions.

“This is a significant honour and it will really allow members from across the university to get a deeper appreciation of the work you are doing at UFS and in South Africa more broadly,” said Prof Judith Byfield of Cornell’s Department of History and Director of Graduate Studies at the department’s Africana Studies and Research Centre.

On the local front, City Press published its inaugural 100 World Class South Africans on 28 April 2013. During a rigorous selection process, 100 of our country’s most extraordinary citizens who have achieved world-class status were chosen. Prof Jansen’s achievements procured him a place on this prestigious list in the category: Heroes and Mavericks.

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